Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's missing?

One of the big highlights of going to Sunstone is getting to hang out with a whole bunch of really passionate, intelligent and invested people and stay up late into the night having passionate conversations. As amazing as the sessions are, sometimes the conversations are just too delicious to leave the hallway.

For me, a lot of those conversations come back around to the YW program. In one of them, I was talking with a friend about the new manuals and all the things I'd love to see removed, and all the things I wished were covered. She asked me,"What if they did entirely new ones? What would you need out of these manuals? What topics are missing?"

I told her that I happened to know a really smart, dedicated group of YW leaders who might have something to say on that subject and that they'd be happy to share their wisdom with anyone willing to listen.

So what do you think, smart, dedicated YW leaders? In the manual of our dreams, what would we see there?

57 comments:

  1. Education for the sake of education and self-sustenance, not just future raising children!

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  2. It would be amazing to see some acknowledgment (clear acknowledgment, not just read-between-the-lines acknowledgment) of our Mother in Heaven. I know the doctrine there is very sparse, and the topic itself has a controversial history. But, as we sing in the hymn, "Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a Mother there."

    Even if the only thing that could really be said is "We have a Heavenly Mother, every bit as much as we have a Heavenly Father," that alone would be huge. Beyond that, we do have some statements from general authorities that could prove helpful, along with our afore-mentioned REASON; it seems that information of this sort could be perfectly at home in a lesson about motherhood. From the revelation we have about the importance of mothers and mothering, I think reason can tell us quite a bit about the sort of being our Heavenly Mother is. And what a huge connection for a young woman to make - a connection to the Heavenly PARENTS spoken of in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," not just to a single Father.

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  3. Cool!

    I would love to see lessons based solely on a conference talk masterpieces: when I have a particularly lean lesson from the manual, I often throw it out entirely and base my lesson on a well-thought out conference address. We read different sections and talk about what it means in real life. It always works out well. Digesting deep doctrine, even when it's somewhat challenging, never fails to engage my young women.

    On the same note, I would love to see lessons based entirely on a chapter of scripture (faith from Alma, for example). The young women don't need doctrine thrice removed: they need flat out scripture study and analysis. Stories and quotes never have the same impact as scriptures. Let's read them!

    In all honesty, whenever I feel topics are missing I just fill them in myself as a tangent to a lesson or by replacing a less relevant topic assignment. Doesn't everyone? My problems with the manuals aren't about topic as often as they are about source materials: outdated, culturally biased, and sometimes only distantly related to actual doctrine. I would love it if the lessons ONLY referenced the scriptures and prophetic counsel.

    I have a few organizational issues. 1) I find that the manuals now have "units" with several lessons grouped together relating to the same topic. It gets repetitive quickly. I'd rather jump around so that we can talk about sharing the gospel once in February and then take another approach in September instead of trying to tease out shades of meaning between three lessons all based on sharing the gospel. 2) Please consider that in America, in the summer, families vacation. Please, please arrange the lesson manuals so the meaty lessons have a high chance of being well-attended (Fall/Winter). Or just make them all meaty. That'd be nice too. 3) I don't have a manual. I just get my lesson online. I would love it if the lessons were updated yearly and available for download in, say, November for the coming year.

    I also think it would be great to dedicate a lesson to the YW General Meeting (maybe a month later so the text is available to the teachers for awhile). Aside from being pertinent to the YW, it would lend credibility to the women who lead us and show the young women that the Church values and validates what those women are teaching to those in their stewardship.

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  4. As the church grows,and more of the members live in different part of the world ,there are many different cultures.It must be hard to create lessons that will fit all those different needs. Each girl is unique daughter of our heavenly father and has different needs. I truly believe that leaders need to be given the basic subjects and some resources to work with but then they need to take them and develop an individual lesson tailored to the needs of her girls with the guidance from the spirit. Sometimes you can fill trapped when the lesson is all spelled out for you step by step. I do feel that there has to be specific guide lines as to the materials that you may use so that opinion doesn't get confused with doctrine.I feel that as we are encouraged to listen to the spirit,share our testimonies and experiences and have the girls do the same we can make the lessons more relevant to our individual girls. I also would like to see more videos and music incorporated into the lessons. I wish we had special music for the young women. Music can truly bring the spirit to lesson.Maybe we could get a c/d and DVD to use with our lessons. To see the prophet relay a story, talk directly to the YW or bare his testimony has far grater an impact then having a teacher read it from a manual.

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  5. !!!Awesome!!!

    I vote for the language of vocation... You can pass this along ;)

    http://www.the-exponent.com/2010/08/23/vocation-discernment-my-optimistic-vision/

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  6. I agree. I'd like to see more scripture based lessons (or at least a scripture reference for EVERY lesson).

    Also, I like how the Sunday School manuals list optional activities for either attention-getting or helping to really remember a principle. I'd like to see those in the YW manuals, too (especially for the beehives).

    My last suggestion is to find a way to involve parents more within the lesson materials (ie. writing letters to their daughters about different topics, or asking them to share an experience they've had, etc.).

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  7. Ditto all the above. Also, please, let's preach repentance! Repentance gets this bad rap in general (and is largely ignored in the current manual) but it's really an awesome and wonderful thing. I think that most of my girls are sophisticated enough to understand that when we teach repentance, we're not teaching them to go ahead and sin.

    On a related note, more on the atonement would be wonderful. When I taught the lesson on Exaltation, the atonement was glaringly absent from the lesson progression in the manual (naturally, I included points not from the book).

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  8. I am so happy to hear that a revision may be in order.

    I love some of the previous suggestions.

    It would be nice to provide multiple resources for a lesson. Have a main theme with "required" scripture and ensign/prophet quotes, then a list of suggested material, and then a "sample" of how the lesson could go, just to give ideas. Resources could include conference talks, object lessons, etc. It is so hard to create one manual that spans all of the cultures and people that we want to reach. I think building a lesson to fit the needs of the class is so important. Having the YW teach part of the lesson also makes such a difference in our class. There could be a section in the front of the manual that talks about preparation, YW (and their parents) involvement, personal progress tie-ins, etc. Sort of a mini training. The lessons could be sort of a Build-your-own. It is always hard to sit through a lesson when the teacher is basically reading from the manual at every turn.

    I love the idea of yearly/online updates to the manual. All of us use the internet. It would be fabulous to have ideas from people all over the world. Credited stories of YW experiences. A place online where leaders and girls can share experiences about different topics.

    I am just throwing out ideas. Sorry this is so long. I am just excited they might improve things.

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  9. P.S. I am really glad I stumbled across this blog. Thanks for the great ideas.

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  10. I so appreciate the frankness here on your website, and think the manual could benefit from that. My 13 yr old daughter had the chastity lesson this week, and came home and said, "Why can't they just say 'No sex before marriage'? Instead they dance around with lines about procreation being special, and no one knows what they're talking about." Why can't they say that, indeed?

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  11. I loved the suggestion of having the manuals updated yearly and online for the next year in November. Or maybe not even yearly, but every other year? I also LOVED the suggestion of DVDs or CDs available where we have the actual video of the prophet or apostles sharing their stories rather than reading them in class. I know we can search for video clips on our own online, but I've found them hard to download + I could see the church creating a clip directly applicable to a lesson (much like those youtube mormom messages videos) complete with music or images of Christ in teh background that would make them have more impact then simply dowloading an entire talk and only showing a few minutes of it. Lastly, the suggestion of allowing a couple weeks in the year to teach from talks given to us at the General Young women meeting is inspired! I'm glad I don't have to put the manual together - I'm sure it's a ton of work! I appreciate all effort made on behalf of YW and YW leaders everywhere; but I also hope they will take these suggestions into prayerful consideration.

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  12. All of the previous ladies have really hit on some fantastic ideas. I think I would be most excited to see the YW program revamped much like CES revamped the seminary program in the 90s - supplemental DVDs and CDs etc. I think what the church is creating on the "Mormon Message" channel on YouTube is FANTASTIC!!! If there was a way to have a bunch of these all on one DVD - we could implement those messages into lessons.

    Ditto to meatier lessons during the school year - ditto to lessons focusing on specific talks and the YW Broadcast (much like the new resource manual directs us). Another great thing in the resource manuals - tying lessons in directly to personal progress - LOVE IT!

    I agree with previous comments - Christ and His Atonement are often absent - or are repentance is brushed over. They should be central! I believe YW need the reinforcement now more than ever - that they are not only daughters of god when they live the values, but when they mis-step - they are still daughters of a loving father in heaven who helps them course-correct.

    I'm all for less of the often weird and outdated "stories" and more of pure examples from the scriptures. I often only draw from talks given by prophets apostles. It would be great to have more current names in the manual for the girls to relate to. Speaking of scriptures - if there is a way to not supplement but support the seminary program - that would be fantastic.

    Lessons in drastic need of updating - MEDIA lessons! Our YW are saturated with media, be it Facebook, their cell phones, the internet, advertising... We have had many conversations in class about what it means to be an LDS young woman in these online spaces - how we conduct ourselves, what we say in our "status updates" what pictures we post... etc.

    Lastly - I know this isn't something unique to our time - my mom felt this way as a young woman in the 70s, I felt this in the 90s, and my girls feel it now - Yes our ideal is to get married in the temple and have families - but that isn't always the immediate track individuals take nor is that the end. I believe we need to do a better job of arming our young women spiritually, emotionally and intellectually for whatever their future holds. They need to be prepared that they may be single for a long time, or that they will be the provider for their family, or they may get divorced etc. So many outcomes for them to be well trained, educated and prepared. We need to be helping raise better women who will then be better members, wives, mothers, workers, citizens, etc.

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  13. I'm actually more anxious to see certain topics omitted than anything else. In particular, I would like to see us move away from lessons that define women and what a women's proper roles are. These lessons fail to resonate, and they live YW feeling anxious, confused, angry.

    I'd also like to see more of the quotations be from women. Women are rarely ever cited in the manuals.

    And, perhaps shorter lessons. The best lessons I've had are where the YW just discuss a topic.

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  14. These are awesome comments. Can you imagine what would come out if they were all applied???

    I especially second Rachel's suggestion of a lesson dedicated to the YW general meeting. Dare I suggest dedicating a whole month to it, one week per talk? Can you imagine hearing the talks once all in one night and then spending an hour-ish with your class each week to break them down and discuss them? Talk about sucking the marrow out of our current, inspired leaders. I love this idea so much.

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  15. Great comments!
    I would like personal progress goals linked to each lesson so the girls can apply what they are learning with what they should be personally progressing--:)
    Or even take it a step further and link each month or every four-to-five lessons with a Value/or Standard. Leaving specific times of year for post conferences, etc is an excellent idea--let's reinforce what our leaders are teaching us!

    I would also suggest combining similiar lesson topics like the three or four lessons on the priesthood--ie bishop, fathers blessings, purpose-- [i know this has been suggested in an earlier post]

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  16. Tolerance and acceptance. We can love others that do not believe as we do without giving up our own standards.

    I agree with the education comment, scripture references and including more comments from leading women. I can only assume lessons will be linked closely to personal progress since the current supplements are already doing that. I think it would be good if they continue to put out supplements each year as new conference talks are available. That has been very helpful.

    I also feel like the discussion lessons are the most productive. The only problem there is that you have to have a teacher that can lead a discussion to make that work. Otherwise you end up with a lot of dead time and nobody talking. THere needs to be plenty of meat to the lesson to prevent this.

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  17. Jumping off what two forks said, I'd like to see YW lessons that deal specifically with the women in the scriptures. There is no other curriculum that can do that - it's not in Sunday School or RS or Seminary, and the YW program would be the perfect place to weave in some lessons that discuss, explore, and celebrate the women (and many of them WERE young women) in the scriptures. I read an awesome book from the Jewish perspective a while back midrashing some of the Old Testament stories for young women as a way to empower and strengthen a girl's connection with God and I could really see that working well if done from a Mormon theological perspective too.

    Let's recruit Camille Fronk Olson to guest-write a few, and let's not shy away from words like "prophetess" and let's openly acknowledge the use of spiritual gifts by women in our scriptures and in our sacred heritage.

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  18. Yeah!

    I think our young men and women really need to partake more fully from the words of the prophets. We always say so, and then we read a couple of old quotes in the lesson. I think that their 4th Sunday lesson should be the same as the adults--Teachings for our Times directly from the same conference talks the Bishop thinks their parents need to hear. Maybe one of the Sundays could focus on a line or value from the them--every 15 months or so the girls would be carefully retaught the entire theme. I think those fifth Sunday lessons should be combined with the boys and the kids should receive prayerful instruction from the bishop.

    I think each lesson should be more values oriented. I still can't believe that we have had the values program in place for more than 20 years, and we still don't have them at the center of part of our lessons. The PP goals related to each lesson that are currently only found on line need to be clearly stated. Activity suggestions following each lesson would also be awesome so that the program isn't so disjointed.

    I think the lessons should openly acknowledge that women don't get married. Have careers. Go on missions, etc. Live in places besides America. I agree with the comments about our lessons needing to help the girls to become independent. Too much of the rhetoric in the current manuals is geared toward a woman's worth being found mainly through her husband/children. Lessons about recognizing and acknowledging other cultures would go a long way also.

    Love the suggestions about lessons specific to the media. We are having so much trouble in our ward right now, and I really wish our bishop (who is wonderful, but older) would hold a major fireside with the parents and say bluntly, "If your kids are on-line, YOU need to be on line." The YW counselors see and hear so much that the girls say and are caught as go-betweens too often. The kids need to understand better about privacy and discernment when it comes to technology they are smart enough to use, but not mature enough to handle.

    Thanks so much for your posting here, I have been thinking about this so much for the last several months. Obviously.

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  19. 1. The stories are infantile and stupid. I think the girls can handle a little more gospel meat in the lessons. More scriptures, more conference, more realistic life lessons.
    2. The law of chastity needs to be more honest and taught earlier. I had no clue what "petting," "soul kissing," or "necking" meant. In fact, I'm still not sure that I know what those outdated terms refer to. Additionally, the girls get the impression that sex is something dirty but fun and allowable in marriage. They need a perspective like that taught in E. Holland's "Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments."
    3. Girls like to talk, so a more discussion based lesson would be helpful. The current manuals are more like Primary lessons- something marching closer to RS manuals would be nice.

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  20. I've been in YW for 6 months and anytime someone asks me how I like it, I say "It's great - we're preparing our YW to live the lives their grandmothers did." For the love, can we please drop the oversimplified, fake-sounding stories and add REAL stories (and quotes!)from REAL WOMEN? Our girls are facing bigger issues than the lessons acknowledge - they don't care if "Sue" and "Mary" from the manual decide to go to the mall on Sunday! Our history and scriptures provide tons of meaningful examples of strong, smart, faithful women (as well as women who made mistakes - let's learn from them, too)! Where else are they going to learn about them? I completely agree with the idea of pushing education for reasons other than educating one's future children with it. How about an entire lesson focusing on career choices?

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  21. The current manual provides an entire lesson on writing to missionaries. Gag. How about a lesson on BEING a missionary?

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  22. I like the idea of using the YW conference talks. I agree we need to talk more about media and talk more openly about sex. I think the lessons ought to really help these girls understand their identity. I read this book I really enjoyed called Girls on the Edge by Leonard Sax. It was really insightful into what these girls are dealing with.

    I agree that the topics should be spread out instead of grouped together by theme. And those lessons about keeping your house clean. . .I would probably just take those out.

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  23. Let me chime in for the YW General Broadcast discussions. What a great idea!

    More lessons about media, more about the strong women of history/scripture, less about hygiene and housekeeping (those should be midweek activity topics, IMHO).

    More about understanding how the spirit speaks to YOU.

    There are some seriously amazing ideas in this thread. Hopefully they can be of some use!

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  24. Agreed on leaving out the lesson on writing to missionaries. I dare say it is the lamest lesson in this years' manual.Also, please no more stories about how Sally helps her mom with her younger siblings!

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  25. Came back to read all these great comments! And I remembered that one of my pet peeves is that while the YW are getting lessons about "writing letters to missionaries" (one of the Sundays I threw out the lesson and taught something else) the YM are being taught something completely different. I would LOVE it if the lessons being taught to YM/YW were nearly identical. As a parent, I would love to prepare my lesson for YW and also talk to my deacon about it. And I think it would be good for the Youth Program in each ward to share a common doctrinal foundation.

    LOVE the idea of teaching a series of lessons about women in the scriptures. I almost want these stories incorporated into every lesson (or as many as is practical), so it's not like we're stepping back from "regular programming" to discuss women in the scriptures, but that we regularly mention the examples of women found in the scriptures in a way that feels normal, regular, everyday and not super special. I would love it if the YM had these examples in their lessons, too.

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  26. 1. Stop focusing the lessons on frivolous topics such as womanhood, writing letters to missionaries, how to be a lady. Even as a youth I always imagined a MAN came up with those topics to be included in the YW Sunday lessons. When I was in YW [and even now] I wasn't pretty - I didn't have any missionaries asking me to write them. I didn't even have guys want to date me. I was kind of gangly and awkward (yes, I still am). I always thought I was a backwards LDS teen because I didn't fit the idea shared in these manuals/lessons. The girls in these womanhood lessons seemed cut from a similar pattern. In contrast, I always felt like people were mocking me by mentioning that I was "a daughter of God" and that I was "a special spirit."

    HOWEVER, if I had lessons about the Savior, with meaty topics, quotations from strong admirable women in church history, women in the scriptures, past YW presidencies and even strong women in history [how cool could it be to go beyond pioneer women and hear about Rosa Parks, or Mahatma Ghandi, or even Mother Teresa]...I think there could have been something intangible BUT REAL that I could have connected with in YW.

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  27. When we had one of our rare lessons on priesthood a few months back, I turned it into a real Priesthood 101 class. I always felt that as a young woman I wasn't taught about the Priesthood as much as I needed. I also like the idea of spending more time on the Strong Women of the church and the examples they show. Repentence is a big one for me. My brother definitely felt like once he screwed up there was nothing he could do, so why even try? And that is just counter to everything Christ is.

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  28. I agree with so much already said. Update, update, update. New ideas, scriptures, talks, stories, quotes, activities, everything. You know it's time for new manuals when YW leaders/teachers have to rely almost completely on the YW Resource Guide or conference talks to prepare meaningful, real lessons.

    Our young women are smart. They are curious. They are gold. They are ready to learn about experiencing life and living the gospel in the 21st century. YW leaders/teachers simply need better materials to meet the needs of the young women and fulfill the position they've been called to.

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  29. I think it should be pointed out that the on-line materials published did suggest SKIPPING the writing to missionaries lesson. Whew.

    Over the past year I've been thinking so much about the importance of teaching kids to recognize the Spirit. I love the PPP for the reason that it attempts to train the girls to form that habits that will allow them to receive personal revelation.

    I also think that just as the A. Priesthood is meant to be preparatory, the YW program can be viewed as preparatory to fulfilling the mission of RS--Charity Never Faileth. Maybe some lessons that relate YW to RS so that the girls don't feel so lost and disjointed during those transition years of college.

    One of the best lessons I did in the past year was one of the missionary lessons. I took the girls through what missionaries would do for study in the morning--prayer, recitation of D & C 4, and a short companion study regarding a certain principle in Preach My Gospel. In pairs, the girls then presented the gospel to two "investigators" who were interested but also asked hard questions. It was wonderful to watch the girls stretch, practice, think on their feet and testify. Though the kids had done all the work, afterward they thanked ME for teaching them! The Spirit was so powerful that day. My example is to illustrate that more role-playing, with legitmate think-about-it outcomes (instead of the friends-smoking-a-cigarette deal) would be wonderful. When the kids feel the Spirit and get true testimonies, the commandments take care of themselves.

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  30. As a Laurel myself, there are a few things I would love to see:

    1 - Please get rid of the "writing your missionary" lesson. It's just awful. Also, I don't have a problem with occasionally focusing on womanhood, because some girls really don't have a clue about that kind of thing. But it doesn't have to be a constant theme.

    2 - I would love some lessons on how to make decisions - and not just pray, read your scriptures, fast. This may be more of a secular topic, but I know so many girls who have no clue how to make huge decisions (myself included). Sometimes the Lord leaves the choice up to you, and when that happens, many of us just don't know how to make a choice.

    3 - Lessons on being a missionary. I'm not saying that they even have to emphasize going on a mission, because we have missionary experiences in our daily lives, too. This could also include teaching children the gospel, because we really need that kind of stuff.

    4 - Talk about comparisons to others, self-esteem, etc. This has been a real theme in the YW session of conference lately, and I think that inner-beauty needs to have more of an emphasis.

    5 - Lessons about healthy relationships. Just because you aren't sleeping with your boyfriend, refusing to kiss him because he won't do exactly what you want isn't healthy either. (I know girls who do this.)

    And just a side note: in the past, our YW have had a combined lesson each fast Sunday, rotating with a focus on one of the values. It lead to some awesome discussions.

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  31. I would love to see:

    1. More true stories. If a story is made-up to emphasize a point, then acknowledge that is the case.

    2. More of an emphasis on the idea that everyone's divine mission is personal and different. My life may not look like your life, and that's okay.

    3. No manipulation, no scare tactics, no manufactured emotion. More emphasis on feeling divine love and the Spirit. I think that repentance can be taught in a beautiful way, not in a shaming way.

    Good luck!

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  32. I love the ideas here. I am so happy that new manuals are on the horizon. When I was called to YW about a year ago, I was disappointed to see that the manuals are the same ones used when I was started YW nearly twenty years ago. I now prepare most of my lessons from scriptures, conference talks, and personal experience and base them very loosely on the manual (with my bishop's and YW president's OK).

    It makes me sad that many of the lessons don't even have one single scripture reference. The girls need to see how the scriptures relate to their lives and how to use them. Scripture stories would be so much better than the made up stories in the manuals. And, as said above, more scripture stories including women would be great.

    Also, I second the idea of having parallel lessons taught in YM. I have looked through some of the YM manuals/lesson titles and it seems that many of their lessons are much more focused on gospel principles than some of the silly topics found in the YW manuals.

    I also find it sad that to teach a lesson on the atonement and one on the restoration of the gospel, the other leaders and I have had to go completely outside the manual. ALL of our girls come from homes with at least one inactive or non-member parent (some both!) and many of them have not learned basic gospel principles at home. I would love to see a manual more geared toward basic gospel teachings, as RS and priesthood manuals have been recently. It would also be great to mention the Savior more in the lessons. There are surprisingly few lessons where He is included.

    I agree with the above suggestions regarding emphasizing education and career choices for women. They need to see that they have worth as citizens and human beings outside of being wives and mothers. Those are important goals, but they should not be the ONLY goals. These young women are smart, and need to feel empowered to make correct choices for themselves, with the help of the Spirit, not scared into doing things.

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  33. Oh yeah, and, I'm glad to see previous commenters mention the cultural bias present in the current manuals. I agree with the idea that the manual should contain the basic "bones" of the lesson, but the teacher should individualize it for her class according to the needs of her girls. The girls need lessons that relate to their current situations in life and to the current state of the world, and stories and manuals get outdated so quickly. It seems like it would be much easier to leave more room for the teachers to build the lessons to fit their class, the manuals would last longer!

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  34. I fleshed out my ideas on BCC. Here they are:

    Do a curriculum program for YW/YM similar to that used for RS/Priesthood.

    1st Sunday - the Presidency decides on a topic their ward's YW need
    2nd and 3rd Sunday - lesson comes from a Resource Guide that gives a topic and links to True to the Faith, For the Strength of Youth, conference talks, scriptures, Personal Progress, Duty to God, etc. The teacher chooses what applies to her class and presents it with lots of time for class discussion
    4th Sunday - Teachings for Our Times - teach from a recent conference talk
    5th Sunday - combined with YM and taught by a member of the Bishopric

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  35. Wow, I missed a couple of weeks and find this amazing discussion!!! I don't have time to read all the comments, but WOW!!! Great stuff. One thing I miss is the inspiration that used to be allowed with lessons. Now I get from my leaders that we must follow the book exclusively. I get the not using questionable material, but even the order of the lessons, or not using part of the lesson because it doesn't apply to my girls.

    Wow, really got chills when I read the part about using the talks from the annual YW meeting as discussion point. I think emphasizing what we are hearing would be great, instead of just moving on and forgetting.

    GREAT BLOG!!!

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  36. Wow this is exciting! I REALLY agree with Jeans' comment on focusing on women in the scriptures. There are some very strong, powerful, wonderful women figures in the scriptures that would be great to talk about. As an example, one Sunday I dedicated my lesson to Esther. I recounted the story, and the girls were spell-bound. Many of them had never read or studied that story before. We finished by eating Hamantashen. :0) I think they really enjoy it when we make the scriptures come alive to them.

    I also agree that we need to focus less on forcing the girls into a home-making box. Statistics tell us that some of the girls will become SAHM, but some of them will never marry, and some of them will never have kids. I think it is more important to build them into well-rounded, confident, strong women who can be successful in whatever path they pursue. Also, I agree with the other comments encouraging education. I noticed in the new Duty to God books there is a section on exploring future careers. I think this would also be very helpful for the YW.

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  37. Another thought: One Sunday I did a whole lesson on Proverbs 31:10-31. I explained that in this verse "virtuous" is not referring to anything sexual, but rather, a person full of "virtues". These verses describe a very strong, powerful, kind, loving woman. The girls really enjoyed learning about what a "virtuous" woman really is.

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  38. For each quality we teach our YW to strive towards, provide at least one story of a strong woman from the scriptures or history who exemplified that quality! Quote these women, refer to them by their proper titles such as Deborah the Prophetess, and Eliza Snow the Priestess. Acknowledge the power women have had in the past and the role they've played in shaping our history.

    Teach our YW about tolerance and diversity. Always emphasize that the greatest commandment is the commandment to love. Teach them how to be friends with people who have different beliefs without compromising their own beliefs. Teach them that although the church has some general guidelines for what the YW should be aiming for in life, many good women have different paths. Teach them about Sheri Dew, and about other good women who married late in life and who have or have had successful careers.

    And my absolute top priority, mention our Heavenly Mother as often as can appropriately be done. I have a feeling that if we talk about Her more and pray about Her more, more about Her will eventually be revealed.

    Teach them that they are valuable as an individual. Teach them that they are not here as assistants to men, they are here as equals to men. Teach them that their worth is not determined by their marital status or number of children. Teach them that their intelligence is valuable and that they can do great good in the world.

    Address the issues the YW face today--issues that are so much more complex than those addressed in the current manuals.

    Teach the YW frankly about chastity. Teach them that they are sexual beings and that that is good and as God intended. Teach them that sex is pleasurable and beautiful in the right context. Replace old fashioned terms like necking and petting with newer ones that the YW will readily understand--making out, fondling, etc. Teach them that they are responsible only for their own actions. This is vitally important! Teach them that YM are COMPLETELY capable of controlling themselves and are required to do so. Teach them that there IS NO point of no return. Teach them to exercise self control and self respect. Teach them that their bodies are good. Address the issues if pornography, masturbation, and same-sex attraction. Talk frankly about abuse.

    Devote an entire lesson to scripture study. Offer creative ideas for enjoying scripture study, remembering to study your scriptures, etc.

    ...and can we please change the theme to read "We are daughters of Heavenly PARENTS..."

    Please?

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  39. Well put, Erin - I ditto every word!

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  40. I didn't read the comments, so this might be redundant.

    I would love to see more doctrine in the lessons. I know the girls get doctrine in Sunday School, but we have been counseled as women in the gospel to be scholars of the scriptures. I wish I had understood more about the doctrines of the gospel when I was a YW, instead of learning them on my mission.

    I think our girls need lessons on how to be righteous without being self-righteous, condescending, etc. How to talk with people of other faiths with respect. How being a woman of God is more than being a wife and mother. How to transition from YW to RS. Just a few ideas.

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  41. I stumbled on this blog tonight. I can't tell you how inspired I am by you women and your dedication to living the gospel. I recently got called into the YW Presidency in my ward, and I feel that it is so important to focus on doctrine and helping our girls to internalize it. I've brought it up again and again, and we do well for a week or so, but then teachers are just reading from the manual again. I'm so grateful that I found you women who truly want our YW to become disciples of Christ. I am inspired to keep trying and to teach the way that it should BE taught, not the way it WAS taught.

    To the question at hand: I second and third and fourth all of the comments that say "stick to the scriptures and the words of the Prophets." And the comments that say "lets teach our girls to THINK about the gospel and live it." The more discussions we have and the more thinking our girls do--the more they feel the Holy Ghost and the more their testimonies are strengthened. The more of that we can get in the book, the better.

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  42. Welcome, Elisa! We love new readers. Please comment often & let us know what's helpful and what's not. You might like these two archive posts for people who are new in their callings: "My Teaching Philosophies," and "So You Just Got a New Calling With Young Women?"

    And look forward to seeing you back!

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  43. I think more than anything they need to be taught that they are in control of their spiritual welfare. That they need to know that the priesthood holders in their lives will not always live up to the standards defined by the church and that they need to obtain their own educations and testimonies because of that reality. Life doesn't always end in forever after and looking at divorce statistics in the church is a big dose of reality in that realm. You can pray and read your scriptures and be temple worthy and make every good decision expected of a Young Woman but you ultimately have no control of the man you marry and you need to be prepared for that.

    I have seen so many men fall away from the church, their families and God after promising their families that they would preside and protect them. That after countless prayers begging for those men to be men and step back into the role they were intended to play, those women have given up on God. I have heard more than one bishop and stake president say "if we didn't let anyone who had a pornography problem hold a calling, there wouldn't be enough men to run the church."

    I think those Young Women lessons are teaching our girls nothing less than a fairy tale. That making those great decisions have no sway over if their new groom lies to them about his pornography addiction or if sometime in the future reveals that he is homosexual or decides that religion has nothing over science and abandons and denys God and forbids the teaching of religion in their homes. Even the most carefully chosen men can fall. These young women need to be prepared for what can happen and how to handle it when it does.

    Prayer can't stop a man from downloading pornography. Reading scriptures can't turn a wayward spouse back to the church. Attending the temple can't make a man who has decided he likes the same sex better turn around.

    That is reality. I wish that my head hadn't been filled with visions of eternity because when my eternity fell apart, my entire sense of being went with it. I wish there was a manual on how to deal with that.

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  44. I think some of the womanhood lessons could be exchanged for lessons on the characteristics of Christ. A woman who exemplified Christlike charity would be very prepared for any role she may take.

    I'd love a lesson on discovering their missions in life...things God may want them to do.

    I love the ideas to include more scriptures and conference talks (including YW conference). That allows for a meatier discussion and focus specific to the young women.

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  45. Two more things...the closer a lesson is to doctrinal meat the easier it is to teach in a variety of environments. Faith applies accross cultures beautiful, as does repentance and the atonement.

    Perhaps on the fictional stories-if they are felt to be necessary, could we follow the prophet and seek out examples from the classics? I'd rather read Shakespeare, Les Miserables, Great Expectations and the like, than the brief vignettes currently used.

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  46. Manual 2, Lesson 21 - sustaining missionaries through letters needs to go. The girls find this silly.

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  47. I too would like to see more scriptures, conference talks, etc used in the lessons or as the lesson. I also like the idea someone else posted about having the first Sunday lesson be on a value, 2nd and 3rd Sunday lessons be from a manual used by both the YM and YW and 4th Sunday lesson be from a current General conference talk, especially if the Mel. PHd, RS, YM and YW use the same talk, the family discussions could be of great help to parents and youth.

    I would also like to see more lessons that help the youth become the teacher. Far too often a YW graduates from the program into RS and she has no idea how to prepare or present a lesson, yet she is sometimes thrown into the situation by being called to teach Primary or RS.

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  48. Some thoughts:
    1) Along the lines of ym's physical desires (which can cause them to turn to pornography), our young women need to be taught that their (the yw's) emotional desires often cause them to turn to getting too emotionally tied to a particular young man. In other words: just as the ym need to control their physical desires, the yw need to control their emotional desires.
    2) The yw need to be taught that to be a wife and mother IS the ideal! "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony.... By divine design....Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.... Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation." In other words, we have become so "tolerant" to the exceptions (those who don't have the opportunity for marriage, parenthood, etc.) that they are becoming the accepted way, even in the Church. The IDEAL is for each young woman to become a wife and a mother. (How many yw in this generation will mouth the words: "I want to be a wife and a mother!"?
    3) I know many non-member Christian youth who are very comfortable talking about Christ and christian living as their vernacular. Do "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins"? Do we teach this in such a way that it is the talking, rejoicing, preaching, prophesying, and writing of our yw? (This is not just a yw manual issue; obviously, this is a home issue that should be supplemented in our Gospel lessons.)

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  49. there is a lesson on time management and it talked a lot about wasting time and the use of free time. I had a YW start to cry because she has no free time at all. All of the YW in the room talked about how structured every moment of their day is. They wake up at 5 am and they day is filled with early morning seminary, school, band practice, play practice, sports, homework, chores, part time jobs, and chores. None of the things they do are optional according to their parents. They do not get unstructured free time at all. The lesson on time management should stress scheduling free time to relax, ponder and so forth. And also touch on dealing with stress. These girls are stressed out now a days.

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  50. Anonymous: "2) The yw need to be taught that to be a wife and mother IS the ideal!"

    I don't agree. There is no ideal. Every person is different and what is ideal for one is not ideal for another. Teaching this to YW makes them feel inferior if their lives don't lead them down this path. Anything we can do to help women in the church feel less marginalized is a good thing.

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  51. These are great comments.

    Teach about Christ by providing real-life examples of what Christ did and said.

    Be frank and avoid euphemisms.

    Teach about healthy body images, respect for self (mind and body).

    Acknowledge that we have Heavenly Parents (not just a HF)

    Help girls learn how to deal with life and make decisions when they (and/or those around them) DON'T measure up to "ideal" - whether that's the way they look, or the families they come from, or the paths they eventually take. Help them develop coping skills to keep them from falling into the trap of, "Perfect Mormon Women/Mothers Do It All"

    Recognize that the issues 12-year-old girls deal with are not the same as the issues 17-year-old girls deal with. And that these girls deal with issues differently at different ages. This is most glaringly apparent when lessons for 12-year-olds focus on marriage preparation.

    Teach them they're important not by telling them, but by showing them. Give them responsibility for teaching lessons.

    Provide them examples of LDS women in the past 100+ years who have lived lives of faith, knowledge, good works, virtue and integrity; women who've shown by example that they have divine natures and who recognize their own and others' inherent individual worth; women who have made good choices and are accountable for them.

    Instead of spending hours focusing on ways girls can support missionaries or encourage boys/young men to be better priesthood holders, focus on teaching girls to better themselves.

    Are the women who make a difference for good in their communities the ones who learned and planned to be Supporters or the ones who learned and planned to be Leaders? If our YW are going to be the salt/leavening agents, they need to be actively involved themselves - not just cheerleaders for the boys.

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  52. Who is mothering the babies and the toddlers and the children and the teenagers? We are told that the greatest thing we will ever do in this life is bring forth children. Somehow, someway, we need to teach our Young Women that they need to do all they can to BE THERE for their children. I see far too many young couples raising their children in their "spare time." It doesn't work that way. We need to teach them about the Family Proclamation....and the divine roles of both the mother and the father. Often times, our girls will hear this no where but through their leaders. To be there for our children is worth all the sacrifices we need to make...the lesser income, the smaller home. Too many children are raising themselves, even in very active LDS homes. Having a mother at home should not feel like an option, it should be seen as a necessity.

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  53. Yay, new manuals! The sooner the better! My thoughts:

    Instead of focusing on how "XYZ" will make you a better wife and mother in the future, how will it make you a better disciple of Christ now?

    Yes to more scripture-based lessons, with TRUE stories (as the Church magazines have moved towards).

    Yes to linking to Seminary and Personal Progress programs.

    Yes to teaching from General Conference and the YW General Mtg.!

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  54. For the last several months we have been doing a presidency lesson for the first lesson of the month. In this lesson we try to focus on a value (faith, divine nature, etc.) and a strong woman in the gospel who somehow portrays that value. She can be a woman from ancient scripture, or a more modern example. These lessons have prompted some really good discussions with the girls.

    For example, when we talked about divine nature, we recounted the story of Esther. She must have known her own divine heritage to have the strength to do what she did - to trust the Lord. We talked about how knowing who we really are gives us the courage and strength to not just be daughters of God, but act like them.

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  55. Oh Man! New manuals would be wonderful! I agree with everything already mentioned. My biggest desire is for meatier lessons. I'm talking doctrine with scriptures and relevant quotes. The stories and examples are often so trite.

    They love it when we get into deeper conversations on gospel topics. Let's not assume they know what certain doctrines are like the atonement, repentance, etc.,. I want them to have a solid understanding gospel doctrines.

    Also, how about taking instances from the scriptures and relating them to the YW. I love what the previous commenter said about Esther.

    I would also love using the YW broadcast as topics; along with conference talks. If the RS and priesthood can use conference talks regularly, why not the YW. It would make conference so much more meaningful for the girls.

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  56. I forgot to say I would love if the topics were spread throughout the year, not in a clump, all in a row.

    And the writing to the missionaries lesson is flat out lame.

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  57. I think young women get plenty of encouragement about education and careers and self-fulfillment from secular sources. In fact, they're bombarded with these ideas from every angle (school, media, friends, etc.). I have no wish to see more of this taught at church. With the world constantly degrading the divine role of women (being a wife and mother), I feel that it's appropriate to devote as many lessons as necessary to the the goal of becoming a loving wife and devoted mother, especially since they're not getting that lesson anywhere else. I disagree that teaching Heavenly Father's plan for women to become a wife and mother is marginalizing those who don't choose this path.

    I think women grow up without learning how to treat their male counterparts with kindness, respect, and love. With the divorce rate that it is, I see the need to teach women the power they have in the home and marriage for good (and not try to normalize a broken home through YW lessons). Someone commented here how they feel like they are teaching young women how to be like their grandmothers. How I wish that were the case. The wisdom of generations past is all but forgotten now, and families are suffering the ill consequences of it. Women used to know how to treat a husband, and we would be wise to be students of our grandmothers.

    I have to say I disagree with a good portion of the comments here. In my opinion, lessons emphasizing the nature of womanhood can't be taught often enough in this day and age. I've had enough feminism shoved down my throat to last a lifetime. It's time to move forward.

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